Right before Memorial Day, Alabama Power issued the following (and hypocritical) statement to the Alabama Media Group:
“Alabama Power’s mission is to provide our customers with the safe, reliable and affordable service they expect and deserve.The company employs a number of individuals and organizations in support of that mission. Alabama Power requires all such individuals and organizations to conduct their activities in a highly ethical manner and in compliance with all legal requirements.”
So Alabama’s go-to law firm Balch & Bingham’s alleged suppression of African-Americans in North Birmingham from having their toxic property tested by the EPA is “highly ethical” and in compliance with the law?
And what caused Alabama Power to issue that paragraph of bull?
Alabama Power was caught off-guard when the Alabama Media Group (AL.com) reported that Alabama Power had paid $7.8 million to a public relations firm “involved in a scandal in which professional actors were paid to pose as citizens in a grassroots movement.”
The scandal involved another utility called Entergy that had hired the Hawthorn Group, the public-relations firm who in turn subcontracted another firm that hired the actors.
The Lens, a non-profit news organization in New Orleans, reported that actors said they had been paid to attend New Orleans City Council meetings in October 2017 and February 2018. The purpose of those meetings was to hear public comments on a proposal from the utility Entergy New Orleans to build a new $210 million natural gas power plant called the New Orleans Power Station.The City Council approved the plant by a 6-1 vote.
Unlike Alabama Power, Entergy investigated the situation, apologized to the public for the actions by Hawthorn and its subcontractor, fired both firms, placing both of them on a “do not hire” list, and amended their code of conduct to prevent any bogus AstroTurf schemes in the future.
So the question that everyone is wondering, did Alabama Power ever hire actors or engage in AstroTurf efforts through their “highly ethical” vendor, Hawthorn?
We remind our readers that the three top executives at Alabama Power (the current CEO, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel, and Vice-President of Government Affairs) are all former partners at Balch & Bingham.
The resistance to reviewing or even suspending that relationship with Balch is stronger than titanium. Alabama Power, like Balch, appears to be in a constant state of denial and looks like they can do whatever they want with impunity.
Entergy avoided a crisis.
But a coming crisis in Alabama is on the horizon.